Dan John frequently hauls out this quote he attributes to Dick Notmeyer: "What did you have for breakfast?"
It's the stock answer to give to anyone asking advice about diet, supplementation, training, etc. If they chose a poor breakfast or skipped it entirely, you don't get to continue on to the advanced advice.
The idea is pretty simple - start with first principles.
- If you haven't had a good breakfast, no supplementation is going to help you gain weight. Or lose it, either.
- If you haven't thought through how to start your day off, what is your workout and training plan going to look like?
- If you don't know why breakfast is important, or what should be included in a good breakfast (even if that changes based on your goals), you need to address that before you move on to more advanced stuff.
If you think about this in weight training terms:
- before you start worrying about specialization programs, get strong across the board.
- before you worry about catching the advanced students in class, worry about mastering the basics. You can't do an advanced yoga pose, pull off that leg lock off of a sweep, or do a 10-minute snatch test until you've gotten the basics down tight.
- anytime you think about making things more complicated to achieve your goals, back up and ask the "breakfast question" - am I doing the basic things I need to do right?
Now, of course, some people deliberately skip breakfast as part of a fasting diet. In my opinion, that's fine - they've made a plan and they are executing it. The lack of breakfast is an intentional part of that approach. They've addressed that first principle. The difference between skipping breakfast or having a bad breakfast (or skipping the basics or not understanding them) and deliberately having no breakfast as part of a larger plan (modifying the basics to fit a specific goal) should be obvious. One misses the point of starting things off correctly at the most basic level. The other demonstrates an understanding of the basic rules but then goes a different way with them.
It's pretty simple and goes with the theme of this blog - keep it simple, work hard on the basics, and results will come. Don't make anything more complicated than it needs to be to get you the results you are after.
And by the way, I had eggs with spinach, and oatmeal with blueberries, and some fruit and black coffee, with a goal of gaining weight. Now I can worry about creatine, protein powders, periodization of my workouts, and training frequency . . .
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